There is no doubt about who the next generation of farmers and consumers thinks is responsible for the future of food and farming — it’s themselves.
However, both groups acknowledge there are many obstacles to being able to work together to solve the challenges facing food and farming. Importantly, both next-gen consumers and farmers feel they do not currently have a big enough say in how food is farmed, sold and consumed. This is despite the fact that 80% of consumers and 94% of farmers agree that they already have opinions on what food should be produced and how.
Instead, they believe that the large players in the food supply chain, notably food wholesalers and farm input suppliers, have the biggest influence on how food is farmed, sold and consumed. Others, like food manufacturing companies, corporate farmers and governments, also play a role.
Furthermore, when it comes to influencing consumer opinion about how food is grown, sold and consumed, both groups indicate that mainstream media, social media and food markets, wholesalers and retailers exert the most influence. At this time, independent farmers are not deemed a major influencer of consumer opinion.
It’s not surprising therefore that there was strong agreement that governments and food production companies need to listen to farmers and consumers when making decisions, and that consumers need to be more involved in how their food is farmed.
“I want to see consumers and our farms connect more closely. Why? Because the consumer and the farm are so disconnected. We need to be more equal, and we need to be able to communicate, and get together, and move forward.”Farmer, US
Despite their support for collaboration and partnership, farmers and consumers believe that certain barriers prevent them from coming together. Among these are lack of knowledge about — or understanding of — each other, perceived socioeconomic differences and no means of direct communication.
There is no doubt about who the next generation thinks is responsible for the future of food and farming — it’s themselves — agreeing that the future of food and farming lies in the hands of today’s young farmers and young consumers.
While a significant majority of nextgen farmers and consumers say they already have opinions about what food should be produced and how, neither group feels they have a big enough say in how food is farmed, sold and consumed.
Both next-gen farmers and consumers attribute the most influence over how food is grown, sold and consumed to big players in the food supply chain, including food wholesalers, farm-input suppliers, food manufacturers and corporate farm companies.
Furthermore, both groups agree that social and mainstream media — together with food wholesalers and retailers and advertising and marketing — exert a bigger influence on consumer opinion than do independent farmers.
Farmers are especially likely to feel that their voices are drowned out by other players when it comes to shaping consumer opinion.
It’s not surprising therefore that nine in ten farmers and consumers agree that they need a bigger voice when it comes to securing the future of food and farming, and specifically that governments and food production companies need to listen to farmers and consumers when making decisions about food production.
There is not only a strong desire to be heard but also a willingness to act. The overwhelming majority of both next-gen farmers and consumers say they are willing to take personal responsibility for helping address the challenges facing food and farming.
Despite their support for coming together to help solve future issues, there are perceived barriers to doing so. Lack of knowledge about — or understanding of — each other, perceived socioeconomic differences, and no means of direct communication are also often cited by farmers and consumers as barriers to working together to solve future issues.